Slaving away for rescue animals in the Amazon...I'll miss the house cat the most

I was looking for a new kind of travel experience when I happened on a volunteer tour helping out the staff at a local animal shelter which rescues and rehabilitates native Amazonian species. The tour put me in the shelter for 6 days where I'd offer my help in the form of manual labor. Then it went to a jungle lodge for another 2 days where I could relax and learn more about the flora and fauna of the Amazon.

OMG it was so cool! I'm a huge animal lover so I was drawn to this kind of thing. The work wasn't glamorous, my duties included cutting fruits and vegetables for the animals' meals, filling up water trays, washing dishes, and brooming cages. But ofcourse, I didn't sign up for this because of its relevance for my resume. The real joy of the program was in getting to know so many unique Amazonian animals and help out the small group of people who are devoting themselves to a great cause. 

Each animal had their own personality which made it easy to fall in love with them in the days I was there. But despite the fact that this was my first exposure to many of these exotic species, I must admit I fell in love with the house cat the most. We hit it off immediately and he even began sleeping with me toward the end. I like to think Otto the cat became my new boyfriend during my stay at the shelter. I do wonder, though, how many other girlfriends he's picked up among the past volunteers...

For anyone interested in doing this tour, you can find it here on the G Adventures website. Alternatively, you can save some money if you opt to reach out to the shelter directly. Their website is here.

The animals I got to meet
Some of these will be very out of focus - I'm a noob at animal photography

My favorite tucan - calm and regal. There was a second tucan in this cage who did not have these characteristics and he was not my friend.
A howler monkey baby checks me out with curiosity
Then his dad comes to check me out as well
Wild boars hanging out in the sun. I never knew how much these things smell. It's disgusting.
A very shy turtle hides when I get close
Then I found a less shy turtle
Valentina the red horned deer. One of my favorite animals on the grounds.
Parrots who have learned to speak Spanish. It was a little eerie being greeted with "Hola" everytime I entered the cage.
Pictures of my love, Otto the Cat

Just waking up
Otto sees the camera
Otto wants the camera

Other photos from around the shelter

It's hard to tell but this ant is about two inches long...and is carrying a smaller ant in its mouth
A butterfly on my rainboots
I left a drop of water on the deck and it turned into a watering hole for ants.
Sunset on the Tambopata river
Amazon flora

Photos from around the jungle lodge

A spider and a wasp dine on a cricket together
A capivara - the world's largest rodent
Lily pads on the Tambopata river
Fungi on a dead tree trunk
A raccoon (I think it's a raccoon?) eating some nuts
A group of us from the lodge

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